Letter: Return nutrients to streams first
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
The June 13 story “Dead salmon spawn lively battle; Conservationists, state agency differ on best use of surplus hatchery fish” helps expose Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife practices regarding disposal of salmon carcasses that have been spawned out at hatcheries. These dead fish are an immensely valuable resource, which WDFW literally has been selling for pennies on the dollar for years.
Helping enrich a fish buyer at public expense, however, is not the main point.
The main point is the carcasses should never have been sold. They should have gone back in streams, even the filleted carcass of edible fish.
Fish First founder Gary Loomis makes the point that, after spending billions on creating suitable habitat, the fish don’t have enough to eat. WDFW spends next to nothing to ensure adequate nutrients in the streams. It simply isn’t a top priority to them. Worse, they won’t give adequate numbers to volunteer groups to disperse to streams at no cost. The fish buyer pays a few dollars and carts away hundreds of thousands of carcasses. In Oregon, the top two priorities are propagation and nutrients. In Washington, they want to get rid of the carcasses the easiest, least messy way possible. It’s lousy stewardship of a critical public resource.
Jerry F. Brown